Christmas is only a few weeks away and again I am running behind on shopping for gifts and sending cards. The weather here in Wisconsin has not been kind the last couple of weeks and we have had painfully cold temperatures. It is the kind of cold that hurts to be out in and feeding horses and cleaning stalls is something that still needs to be done but often the joy has been replaced with frustration, exhaustion and survival! Now I know I am exaggerating about the survival part but when you are working in it daily, it can truly feel like that at times. The extreme cold temperatures will wear me out unlike any other time of year when I am working in the barn. With that said nothing else gets done for a few hours after I get back in the house. I thaw out a bit and many days (okay, almost everyday I need to lay down for bit) which drives my kids crazy!
Life on a working horse farm with horses, boarders and a business to run has its challenges daily but the wintertime will make many of those challenges seem magnified. Just feeding hay and putting together the buckets of grain and supplements takes longer and it is extremely hard to open a grain bag with frozen fingers! And don't forget the grain that has molasses as part of the ingredients, it quickly becomes a solid block of frozen grain that needs to be chiseled apart. That is when the fun begins. Dragging the indoor arena almost everyday in bitter cold means warming up the 4-wheeler or tractor which all takes time. Making sure the footing is safe for the horses outside and feeding plenty of extra hay is all part of the daily routine during the winter months. Checking for ice patches that seem to pop up daily in the paddocks with the fluctuation of temperatures that hover around the freezing mark which causes the snow to melt to water during the warmest part of the afternoon and then freeze back up to solid ice overnight! Keeping a constant watch on water tanks and automatic waterers and making sure the heaters are working and lines are not frozen. Checking each horse daily to make sure they are warm enough and their eyes look clear and alert. I must admit that my husband takes care of so much more than me when when it comes to making sure the equipment is working and everything is operational as it should be. I do my chores and head back in the house but he is outside for hours on end. Then on top of it, the snow comes and plowing has just been added to the long list of jobs that need to get done daily.
David and I feel truly blessed because on the days that we are feeling exhausted and the weather has made our job incredibly hard, that is when someone will come up to me or him and thank us for all we do to take care of the horses. It is amazing but those simple little words "Thank you" can change your whole day and put a spring in your step. It's a feeling that you are appreciated for the job you do daily in every kind of weather imaginable that will keep you going.
A perfect gift at the right time Are you wondering what to give the barn owner or barn manager where you board your horse? I have the perfect gift you can give them and it will make their day unbelievably better. When you go out to the barn today, tell them "Thank you" for the great care they give. Tell them "Thank you" for plowing the snow and dragging the arena. Tell them "Thank you" for fixing things that get broken because horses will break many things including the fencing and it often seems to happen when it is frigid outside! Tell them "Thank you" for feeding great hay and plenty of it. Tell them "Thank you" for taking care of the horses seven days a week including Christmas day.
The work still needs to be done on holidays
Remember that there will be many barn owners and managers that have to leave parties and family celebrations on Christmas day to go feed and water a bunch of horses no matter what the weather is. That means changing from the dress clothes that they hardly ever wear to their old work jeans and jacket again for maybe the third time that day. The gift of appreciation will give them encouragement on a day that might be extremely hard and exhausting. The gift of appreciation will give them the strength to keep going when they want to give up. The gift of appreciation doesn't cost a thing but it's value is priceless.
One little note- A "Thank you" doesn't always need to be in person. When I get a text or email from a client who took the time to write me a little note of appreciation, it absolutely makes my day! It tells me that they value me and David enough to take the time to write a few words to us.
Yes it is true, every barn owner that has decided to board horses has chosen this career of their own free choice and you might think that it is all part of it. Yes, it is part of the job but as my dad use to say, "A simple thank you can make the hardest job seem so much better on those difficult days." When you take the time to thank a barn owner or manager and you are specific about certain things you notice with the care and upkeep of the barn, it will send a message to them that their hard work does make a difference in someone's life and that is an incredible feeling.
If you are looking for something to give the barn owner or manager at your barn, remember that a simple thank you is an incredible gift and it is something you can use all year long. It is not used often enough these days in our world.
Merry Christmas! Sheri Grunska